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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Luke Yau Wai and Dr Eki Wari on October 25, 2022

Best Baby Food To Give Your Child For Growth And Development

Baby food should contain lots of colors, healthy fats, and micronutrients to give your child the best start to life. Here are some tips for feeding baby that you don't want to skip!

Feeding a baby min scaled

Baby food plays a large role in the growth and development of your child. Proper nutrition is essential for brain development, bone formation, and immunity.

However, with so many options out there, how do parents know what baby food is best? Should you make your own or buy from the store?

This guide helps parents make smart decisions about feeding their babies. You’ll also learn tips about the best baby food to feed your child from a holistic perspective.

Why Is Baby Food Important?

A cute little girl practicing healthy eating by feeding strawberries to her little brother
A healthy diet helps your baby grow into a healthy toddler and adolescent.

The first two years of a child’s life are crucial for their growth. Adequate nutrition during this period would support their development and health. On the other hand, insufficient and inappropriate nutrition can lead to issues such as: 

  1. Childhood obesity 
  2. Growth stunting
  3. Impaired intellectual performance
  4. Malnourished female children have been known to experience reduced reproductive capacity as adults
  5. Death 

What is considered adequate and appropriate nutrition? According to World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF’s global recommendations, optimal infant feeding includes: 

  1. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months
  2. Complementary feeding from the age of six months with continued breastfeeding up to two years old or beyond 

Importance of baby food, from a TCM perspective

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that the body’s Spleen and stomach play integral roles in a child’s overall development. An improper diet can disrupt the transportation and absorption of nutrients.

Your child should avoid overeating, eating cold and raw foods, and consuming too many supplements as this will inhibit a child’s body from growing normally.

Infants are born with delicate internal organs and an inadequate flow of qi. Because of this, their bodies may be susceptible to the invasion of external Cold pathogens. 

TCM Physician Luke Yau Wai recommends preventing this by avoiding feeding your child pungent foods. This includes spices such as garlic, ginger, onions, chilies, and peppers.

How To Pick Out The Best Baby Food

In TCM, some appropriate food choices are orange vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut, and acorn squash) and later non-glutinous grain cereals first (millet, rice, and quinoa). These foods will tonify the Spleen and help set your child up for healthy digestive function.

When introducing solids, steam or slow-cook all foods and always serve foods warmed to a baby-appropriate temperature. Heating the food to body temperature helps to aid in the easy digestion of new solids. If your baby rejects food, maybe it’s too soon. Stick with breast milk and try again in a week or a few weeks.”

Physician Luke.

When a baby reaches the age of six months, they’ll require more energy and nutrients that breast milk cannot provide. It’s why complementary feeding becomes necessary. 

Complementary foods must be nutritious, safe, and appropriate so an infant can fulfill their needs for energy and nutrients. Here are five tips to help you feed your child right: 

Pick bland foods 

A young woman checking the back of a baby food jar for ingredients
If you go with store-bought baby food, be sure to check the label for added sugars.

Remember that an adult’s taste buds aren’t the same as babies. What we consider too light or perhaps bland could taste delicious to babies. Vice versa, what adults consider savory might be too strong for the little ones.

Avoid foods with added sugar (muffins, flavored yogurts, cookies) and high in salt (canned foods, processed meats, frozen dinners). Keep infants away from sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soda, flavored milk, sports drinks, flavored water, and juices.

Bear in mind that some baby food brands available in the market are rich in sugar and salt or have added flavorings like vanillin. Be cautious when purchasing these products and refer to their nutritional labels.

Stay away from unpasteurized drinks or foods 

Fresh juices, raw milk, yogurt, and cheeses should be avoided. Since these products haven’t undergone the pasteurization process, they may contain harmful bacteria. When fed to a child, they can cause severe diarrhea or other serious health problems.

Try eggs

The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eggs as one of the first foods for infants and toddlers. The guidelines believe that introducing eggs early might reduce the risk of an egg allergy. Moreover, eggs are a source of choline (similar to vitamin B), a nutrient that plays a huge role in brain development.

There used to be a concern that egg whites may trigger an allergy in infants, but studies have shown that introducing eggs when they are younger might protect them against an egg allergy. Just make sure to cook the eggs properly before feeding them to your child. 

Add healthy fats to baby food

Some parents are worried that feeding their children fat might make them obese. The truth is, babies younger than two years old need fat to grow. 

Infants and toddlers require energy from fats such as omega-3, omega-6, and monounsaturated fats to keep up with the calories they use for growth and rapid brain development. Therefore, restricting their fat intake might lead to poor growth in young children.

Add color

Healthy baby food puree made with fresh fruits and vegetables
Try adding a wide variety of colorful foods to your baby’s diet to ensure they get as many nutrients as possible.

Children need a variety of vitamins and minerals to grow well, and they can get them from a balanced meal. A diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meats, and pasteurized dairy would benefit infants greatly.

Try creating a rainbow of different colored foods such as berries, bananas, salmon, spinach, and pumpkin on your children’s plates to encourage them to eat healthily.

Set The Example For Your Kids

Eating right is the key to positive baby development but getting the appropriate nutrition is as vital for children as for adults. So, why not begin with yourself?

Set a good example by consuming a healthy diet. Let your children watch you and follow in your footsteps. After all, healthy babies can only come from healthy parents.

We’d love to hear how you keep your baby healthy! What are some foods your baby enjoys? Share in the comments below.

This is an adaptation of an article, “What to Deal with Baby’s Growth?” that first appeared on the Eu Yan Sang website.

References

  1. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 2009. The importance of infant and young child feeding and recommended practices 
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Foods and Drinks to Avoid or Limit.  
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Foods and Drinks to Encourage.  
  4. PR Newswire. 2020. New Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eggs for the nutrition babies need for brain development
  5. American Family Physician. 2006. Nutrition in Toddlers.  

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BabyMar 15 2023

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